India has rejected demands from major global and domestic beverage companies to exempt certain plastics Straws of a ban that takes effect July 1, stoking fears of disruption in a multi-billion dollar industry.
The prohibition of items such as Straws packed with small juice and dairy packs that bring in $790 million in annual sales are part of India’s push to eliminate polluting single-use plastic waste that chokes rivers and sewers.
“We are worried because this is happening during peak demand season,” said Praveen Aggarwal, chief executive of industry group Action Alliance for Recycling Beverage Cartons (AARC), referring to India’s sweltering summer temperatures. .
“Consumers and brand owners will face major disruption.”
For months, his alliance, which includes PepsiCo, Coca-Cola Co, India’s Parle Agro, Dabur and dairy companies, has been pushing for Straws to be exempted, saying there was no alternative.
Aggarwal’s comments came after the environment ministry rejected the group’s demands, telling it in an April 6 memo that the industry “should move towards adopting alternatives”, after received more than a year’s notice to change.
The Environment Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Pepsi declined to comment, while Coca-Cola and other companies did not respond to questions.
Hugely popular for affordable prices ranging from 5 rupees to 30 rupees, the equivalent of 7 US cents to 40 US cents, the small packs are part of India’s much larger market for juices and dairy products, according to the RCAA.
The fruit juices Tropicana from Pepsi and Real from Dabur, as well as the mango drinks Maaza from Coca-Cola and Frooti from Parle Agro are among the drinks sold in small packages, and the packaged drinks Straws allow shoppers to quench their thirst on the go.
The AARC has repeatedly urged the government to exempt these Straws of its ban, claiming that countries such as Australia, China and Malaysia have authorized their use, in letters sent to the Ministry of the Environment in October and seen by Reuters.
“Low utility product”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government believes that these tiny Straws are a “low utility product” that results in waste and must be discarded for paper Straws or spout instead, said a source familiar with government thinking, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
All types of plastic Straws should be banned, said Chitra Mukherjee, a waste management expert in the capital, New Delhi, as they rank among the top 10 types of marine debris.
But three senior industry officials said their companies fear a disruption in the supply of juices and drinks, while turning to options could increase product costs and hurt business.
Aggarwal said the industry would need at least 15-18 months to build a supply chain solution with other types of Straws.
“We will try to convince the government again,” he added.
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